« MTS Nacella - Part 6 | Main | 33 - An Invitation And A Town Party »

Delanceyplace: The Hidden Glory Of India

Spirituality informs all aspects of Indian culture, and
according to a recent Gallup survey, no county has a higher percentage of respondents who believe that religion is "very important" to their lives. (The United States ranks second.) However, the term "Hindu" is often mistakenly viewed as referring to a single religious system, when in fact, the term came into being as a geographical designation used primarily by foreigners, and is not found is the Bhagavad-gita or any of the classical writings of India. Even today the term is better understood as a collection of many religious traditions as diverse as Jainism and Shaktism, writes Steven J. Rosen.

It should be pointed out that the word "Hindu" is not found in any of the classical
writings of India. Nor can it be traced to the classical Indian languages, such
as Sanskrit or Tamil. In fact, the word 'Hinduism' has absolutely no origins within
India itself. Still, it persists, and traditions as diverse as Shaivism and Jainism,
Shaktism and Vaishnavism, have been described as 'Hinduism.' This may work as a
matter of convenience, but ultimately it is inaccurate.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder and spiritual preceptor
of the present-day Hare Krishna movement, saw the word as a misnomer:

" Sometimes Indians both inside and outside India think that we are preaching the
Hindu religion, but actually we are not. One will not find the work 'Hindu' in the
Bhagavad-gita. Indeed, there is no such word as 'Hindu' in the entire Vedic literature.

This work has been introduced by the Muslims from provinces next to India, such
as Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and Persia. There is a river called Sindhu bordering
the northwestern provinces of India and since the Muslims there could not pronounce
Sindhu properly, they instead called the river 'Hindu' and the inhabitants of this
tract of land they called 'Hindus'"...

In Seven Systems of Indian Philosophy, ... Pandit Rajmani Tigunait writes along
similar lines:
"... [T]he current popular usage of the term Hinduism does not correspond to its
original meaning. When Alexander the Great invaded the subcontinent around 325
B.C.E., he crossed the river Sindhu and renamed it Indus, which was easier for the
Greek tongue to pronounce. Alexander's Macedonian forced subsequently called the
land to the east of this river India. Later, the Moslem invaders called the Sindhu
River the Hindu River because of their language, Parsee, the Sanskrit sound s converts
to h. Thus, for the invaders, Sindhu became Hindu, and the land east of that river
became known as Hindustan."

The concept is also articulated by historian C. J. Fuller, who underscores the
fact that the word 'Hindu' originally meant something geographical, not cultural
or religious. In addition, he points out the convenient usage of the term in separating
Muslims from other peoples in India:

" The Persian word 'Hindu' derives from Sindhu, the Sanskrit name of the river
Indus (in modern Pakistan). It originally meant a native of India, the land around
and beyond the Indus. When 'Hindu' (or 'Hindoo') entered the English language in
the seventeenth century, it was similarly used to denoted any native of Hindustan
(India), but gradually came to mean someone who retained the indigenous religion
and had not converted to Islam. 'Hinduism,' as a term for that indigenous religion,
became current in English in the early nineteenth century and was coined to label
an 'ism' that was itself partly a product of western orientalist thought, which
(mis)constructed Hinduism on the model of occidental religions, particularly Christianity.
Hinduism, in other words, came to be seen as a single system of doctrines, beliefs,
and practices properly equivalent to those that make up Christianity, and 'Hindu'
now clearly specified an Indian's religious affiliation."

Using the overarching term 'Hinduism' for the many religions of India is comparable
to ignoring the different religious orientations within each of the Western traditions,
arbitrarily merging them under a single banner -- [e.g.] 'Semitism' (which, like
'Hinduism,' merely denotes geographical location). Judaism, Christianity, Islam,
and others constitute the diverse religious traditions of the Western world. Just
as the term Semitism is too broad and reductionistic to represent properly the unique
religious manifestations of the great Western traditions, and just as it would be
inappropriate to refer to all these traditions as one religion, the term Hinduism
falls short.

Author: Steven J. Rosen
Title: The Hidden Glory of India
Publisher: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Date: Copyright 2002, 2004 by The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International,
Pages: 10-11

If you wish to read further: Buy Now http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001gSt1jGpwARGyWxOjtSg06sGgE9wVN4g9n3AcBv5Dom0EGTpYAkK94Jrp1YZjwXfs9UhIiCTBPzxCqSZB0d80-53VgJG7iGySw4JdoVo6GzSqVIFn-I7N6z3oRf2bZtzMOfIxsFTGTtEpc41dWcAwv2heDI9sDnwPm2giB9Au97AukdPuk6L7xMUGWGJ1IVWJ1pWD_XbF6hXesJFNhlImVwLbWbI5SLBZE4BAlDblQa4smIB13ymU-i-JuEW_nz6bMbZWb0SS0sEj4hIzY5YwctmslmHYK0H8khZuyc_QmQ_GbiePM6tXiNh4SsxU77mAXemBnsDLtLtvkNP2q8wkrryz5rReXdmNqnQ4uJxGsOYXtVu2kE-usCR534u_qFuyCy72475WjqZDEWMe_zM_QQ==

If you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase
will benefit a children's literacy project. All delanceyplace profits are donated
to charity.


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.